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Good Night, and Good Luck, Puck

For all I say about having little time for the inside stories of stars and athletes, Puck remains an exception for me. I grew up on Kirby. I listened to Herb Carneal and John Gordan effuse his name all summer, every summer. I idolized what he did with what he had. He was such an unusual player; a hustler through and through. It was hard to believe he could accomplish what he did.

At the time I was too young to understand his hard-knock story. His poor childhood and his rags-to-riches, against-all-odds success. And yet I knew he was an inspiration. I knew once a month when we’d actually receive a televised game that Kirby would be smiling and kicking that leg, ready to tear into another pitcher regardless of where he happened to throw the ball. And in the field Puckett would make his 220-pound frame do things that just didn’t seem possible.

And this evening I sit in front of my computer to find Puckett gone. Was his sudden exit from baseball what sapped his seemingly unending will? Or did life simply overcome him? We’ll never know. But to be sure, Kirby was a model for many young people of a generation, an inspiration that was pure to sport, and pure to life.

Rest in peace, Puck.